Meet Our Staff:


The Reverend Karen Lyons, Senior Pastor

Rev. Karen Lyons received her Master of Divinity degree from Emory University, Candler School of Theology in May 2003, Certification in Christian Education and  has extensive training in Clinical Pastoral Education and Care. She worked as a  Chaplain Intern at Metro State Prison for over six years and also served as a Chaplain  Resident at Grady Hospital and Southern Regional Hospital. .  One of her favorite scriptures is Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways and he will direct your path.”

On February 5, 2005, she assumed the role of Senior Pastor of Cliftondale UMC and was appointed there for nine years. . She was Ordained Elder in Full Connection in July 2010. She officially assumed the role of the first female Associate Pastor of St. James United Methodist Church, Alpharetta in June 2013, Karen became pastor of Clarkston UMC in June 2014, the first African American female pastor, has traveled extensively around the world as an Army child before returning to her native State of Philadelphia, PA in 1966. She loves to travel all over the world, spend time at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit and host mission events and teams in Clarkston, Ga. 

Karen has been married 34 years to Dr. Ralph C. Lyons, Gastroenterologist, and they have two daughters, Christine, an Opera Singer, and Jeanne, a Marketing Executive for Google. Karen serves on the Board of Ordained Ministry and the United Methodist Committee on Health and Pension, and previously served on the “No More Malaria” Steering Committee and as a  Board Member of the Women in Theology & Ministry Program at the Emory/Candler School of Theology. She is a member the South Fulton Running Partners, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and has gained extensive experience in the corporate world in banking and in various church ministries before answering her call to ministry 1999. Conference, community and international travels and affiliations have prepared Rev. Lyons to embrace and carry out God’s vision for Clarkston UMC. 


Jason Rodgers, Director of Music Ministries

Jason received his Professional Studies Diploma from the renowned Cleveland Institute of Music in Orchestral Conducting under Carl Topilow and Louis Lane. He received his Masters of Music in Conducting from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts under Serge Zehnacker and John Mauceri, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance, under Clifton Matthews, from the same institution.

Jason started playing the piano at the age of seven, after hearing his grandmother and mother play in his family’s church. With the help of his middle school music teacher, by the age of 13, Jason started taking lessons regularly at the prestigious Settlement Music School in his hometown of Philadelphia, PA. Since then, Jason has been awarded scholarships and merit from the Philadelphia Foundation, Pro Arts Society, National Alliance for Black School Educators, Settlement Music School, the Wallace Loeb Performing Arts Fund, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and the Sidney De Knight Piano Scholarship and the Episcopal Church of St. Thomas. Jason was awarded the silver medal in the Kal Rudman/Cunningham Classical Piano Competition and performed for the Philadelphia Piano Festival held at the Ethical Society in June 2001. Jason has also been featured in such publications as The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, and Germantown Chronicle.

While pursuing his Bachelor’s in Piano Performance, Jason served as Minister of Music of the Lexington Lutheran Church in Winston-Salem, NC from 2005 to 2007. There, Jason honed his skills in choral/handbell directing and hymn arranging for piano and organ. After receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s from NCSA Jason moved to Cleveland to study Orchestral Conducting and served as Minister of Music in the Church of the Transfiguration in Cleveland, OH for two years. Upon graduation in 2009, Jason returned to his hometown to teach instrumental music in the Philadelphia School District and served as Minister of Music for the Germantown Presbyterian Community Church until 2013. Looking to further his career as a professional musician and continuing his work in music ministries, Jason relocated to Atlanta, GA in 2013. He was delighted to accept a new post as the Director of Music Ministries here at Clarkston United Methodist Church and as music teacher for the Fugee Academy. Jason has fulfilled his dream of starting the first African-American Orchestra and had his first black-tie Concert, Night at the Opera: “Orchestra Noir,” on  September 16, 2016 at the Georgia Freight.
arnettesmithArnette C. Smith, Administrative Assistant
Arnette comes to us as a seasoned administrative assistant.  She has ties with the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church,  The United Methodist Church,  The Presbyterian Church, The Baptist and a Non denominational church.  She has many years experience as an administrative assistant .  She has been doing God’s work behind the scenes for years and will tell you quickly that this is her ministry.   Arnette was born and raised in the Atlanta area and  is the mother of one daughter, Bridgett Slayton, who is a sales rep for Georgia Lottery.  She is excited about being a part of the Clarkston United Methodist Church Family and hopes that in some small way she makes a difference in sharing her gifts and talents with the Clarkston Church Family and the community!

WendellWendell Carter, Church Sexton

Wendell Carter blessed the ministry of our church when he took over the everyday upkeep and maintenance of the campus of Clarkston UMC. He is a dedicated worker who goes beyond his required services and helps maintain shared space for a full time school and six partner congregations.